HD-Vinyls 24/96 (DGG) S. Rachmaninov – The Piano Concertos (Vásáry)

For all friends of Rachmaninov 😉 Reposted, now with FF links

# Composer: Sergej Rachmaninov

# Performer: Tamás Vásáry
# Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
# Conductor: Yuri Ahronovitch
# Vinyl (1976)

# Number of Discs: 3
# Format: Flac
# Label: Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft
# DR-Analysis: DR 14
# Size: 2.97 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FileFactory

Holy Cow! Just when I thought I had all the versions of Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto a music collector could ever need, I find this performance which by any standard could only be called definitive. For that is exactly how I would describe Vasary’s astonishing rendition of this popular work. I was bowled over by the pianist’s virtuosity in the first movement (he’s clearly in the Richter class), but it was the Adagio that totally did me in. This is the most beautiful rendition of Rachmaninov’s haunting melody that I have ever heard. To me, the Adagio alone makes this set worth the price of admission. Ah, but there’s more! Vasary likewise gives a brilliant and stirring performance of the flamboyant third concerto. Although I do not own as many versions of this work as the one mentioned above, Vasary’s performance easily rivals all others I have heard and excels the only version in my collection. Bravo!

The driving reason I recommend this DG full set – again, mainly for those who already own a few separate Concerto recordings – is that Vasary and conductor Aranovich play down the straightforward approach so often encountered, such as with the excellent Ashkenazy and Previn and most recently under Maazel with Gutierrez at the keyboard. Good as these versions are the Vasary set offers a chance to hear some real variety and unexpected ideas: Vasary clearly has looked carefully through the music and come up with a very reasoned alternative to what we almost always hear. And in addition his performance abounds in a close sparkling look at a host of often too perfunctory handled details.

Rachmaninov’s solo writing for piano can be extraordinarily introspective; in the Concertos these qualities are somewhat diffused or offset for broader aims, and more large scaled writing for such concert pieces dominates. These DG recordings focus more on those complex elements found in the individual solo works that remain in the Concertos, with Vasary playing down the literal for the specific, and pursuing the emotional connections in ways rarely encountered. Throughout Aranovich invokes a deliberate High Romanticism, with the orchestra playing at times recalling Otto Gerdes fabled full blooded Brahms Fourth, still sadly unavailable. (If you ever see it -grab it!)

There are some drawbacks to all this – the pacing can be slower than most – though not all – versions, and it would be impossible to imagine versions veering further from the composer’s own strict no-nonsense readings of the Concertos! These represent what might be called the high and mighty approach – nothing wild or imaginative, all powerful exceptional playing and unshakeable conviction. Reminds me of my dad’s generation when driving across the country – they knew where they were going and they didn’t stop or dilly-dally in the slightest. The old sound holds most back from listening. This is not to suggest the Vasary DG set is wayward – there is an undeniable certainty about it all – but these are not the tempos in these Concertos most of us are used to, and a very long way in places from the composer’s versions. (For a differing older version of a pianist much admired by the composer, one showcasing highly refined, felicitous playing, you can also look up Benno Moiseiwitsch (Given Amazon’s persnickety spelling demands – best to follow the link!)

Of all of these Concertos I like best Vasary’s playing of the 1st Concerto – his gift as a colorist lends to the music’s Byzantine splendor a sharp cut glass brilliance. This is effectively set off by the rich sonorities of the London Symphony under Aranovich, who makes an excellent and understanding partner. Unlike the recent Zimerman Chopin Concertos, where the pianist’s leadership from the keyboard created far too much sag, here the slower tempos are more secure and the symphonic architecture, a feature in all Rachmaninov’s Concertos, is inherently more tightly constructed than was the case for Chopin’s Concertos; the work holds together better when put under pressure or asked to support strong detailing. Among older performances I like the composer’s own playing – but the sound IS seventy years old!

The Rachmaninov Second Concerto is so well known as to have become a gigantic cliche – hearing it played with different inflections is therefore a refreshing pleasure. Vasary’s approach, again working as a colorist and a thoughtful musician, and not a thunderer or sentimentalist allows much of the music’s integrity to emerge out from under the mountains of gooey Kitsch it’s has been buried under. While I still lean to Gary Graffman and Bernstein here, also a budget, and including a grand version of the Paganini Variations not found in this DG Vasary set, I give a hearty thumbs up to Vasary’s intelligent performance, one filled with special attentions to the music I think the composer would have found pleasing. (And for all you Richterolics: There is also a new as yet unreviewed Cd issue of the ‘other’ 1959 version of Richter in the 2nd Concerto – hopefully with better restored sound than the version I own – check it out –

In the Rachmaninov Third Concerto there are more versions then I can count – having heard Horowitz perform this work on more than one occasion my preference on recordings for Vladimir is admittedly totally sentimental, but he does play the work quite well. The earlier versions are better, but not in stereo. A fine now budget version in remarkable sound was made by Byron Janis – As good a pairing as I know! The Vasary reading of the Rachmaninov Third isn’t in this exalted league – it doesn’t quite knock anyone for a loop – Vasary eschews banging and massive sonorities, and in a sense is not the right pianist for this Concerto. For someone made to order see Argerich –  However, Vasary does bring out the music’s multiple and complicated interconnections to the other Concertos in a way few of his peers do, and I must again say how much Vasary’s magisterial sense for coloring, little commented on by others, captivates me.

In the Rachmaninov Fourth Concerto lyricism is the order of the day, and among individual recordings I remain attached to a very long ago one by Michelangeli,  It comes with an equally graceful reading of Ravel’s light-hearted Concerto. Vasary’s performance in the Fourth seems more right than the mighty Third, and this makes an attractive closure on a relatively little known set.


Analyzed folder: /Users/alfredo/Desktop/ HiResMusic/96kRac_AllPC_Vsry/96k Rachmaninov – All Piano Concertos – Vasary
DR        Peak        RMS        Filename
DR13        -1.49 dB     -20.23 dB     Piano Concerto No1 in F sharp minor Op1 – 1 Vivace.wav
DR14        -6.37 dB     -27.51 dB     Piano Concerto No1 in F sharp minor Op1 – 2 Andante.wav
DR13        -1.50 dB     -20.32 dB     Piano Concerto No1 in F sharp minor Op1 – 3 Allegro vivace.wav
DR13        -1.47 dB     -20.19 dB     Piano Concerto No2 in C minor Op18 – 1 Moderato.wav
DR15        -1.38 dB     -26.92 dB     Piano Concerto No2 in C minor Op18 – 2 Adagio sostenuto.wav
DR13        -1.34 dB     -19.75 dB     Piano Concerto No2 in C minor Op18 – 3 Allegro scherzando.wav
DR15        -1.37 dB     -22.03 dB     Piano Concerto No3 in D minor Op30 – 1 Allegro ma non tanto.wav
DR14        -3.18 dB     -23.91 dB     Piano Concerto No3 in D minor Op30 – 2 Intermezzo (Adagio).wav
DR14        -1.26 dB     -20.44 dB     Piano Concerto No3 in D minor Op30 – 3 Finale (Alla breve).wav
DR13        -2.23 dB     -20.55 dB     Piano Concerto No4 in G minor Op40 – 1 Allegro vivace (Alla breve).wav
DR16        -2.02 dB     -25.56 dB     Piano Concerto No4 in G minor Op40 – 2 Largo.wav
DR13        -1.02 dB     -19.65 dB     Piano Concerto No4 in G minor Op40 – 3 Allegro vivace.wav
DR14        -1.04 dB     -20.41 dB     Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.wav
Number of files:    13
Official DR value:    DR14


  • Composer: Sergej Rachmaninov
  • Performer: Tamás Vásáry
  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Yuri Ahronovitch


Ripping Infos

  • RCM: Okki Nokki
  • TT: Clearaudio Champion Level II
  • System: Special Edition Denon DL 103
  • Phono stage: Pro-Ject Phono Box II
  • Pre Amp: Unison Research Unico Pre (Tube)
  • Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
  • Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
  • Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
  • Software: iZotope RX Advanced v2.02, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Light de-Clicking with ClickRepair, significant clicks manually removing, no De-Noising

If You hear some clicks and pops here and there,  Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music. Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.

  • DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
  • Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5

If you like what i do, please consider that a little donation would be very appreciate. I reinvest all donations in maintenance of my rig, for purchasing cleaning solutions and, most important of all, purchasing of new vinyls.
Click on the “Donate”-button. Thank you very much !

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33 thoughts on “HD-Vinyls 24/96 (DGG) S. Rachmaninov – The Piano Concertos (Vásáry)

  1. Hello, Rachmaninov!

    I was out for some time because of a ridiculously big amount of tests.

    But now I’m back and very vey happy to see your posts. They are absolutelly great and will never be forgotten! And, dear lord, his boxsets are incredible and this blog is an unbeliavable gift to me and so many people.

    Yours sincerely,


    I had also to do some work and save money for a new hard drive… so. I cannot wait to listen to this, Curzon, Maazel, etc…

    The treausre you post here is of an unspeakeable value, and for now is not only my greatest joy as it is also the most precious thing I have. I cannot thank you enough.

    Whatever’s Bruckner fiesta was also superbly outstanding I still did not listen to all of it, but some day I’ll get there! 😀

  2. Stunning, Rach. I have loved Vasary for many years, since I first heard his Chopin Nocturnes (which he did with considerable spirit!).

    Your rips are unbelievably clean and full-spectrum. The Paganini Variations here are first-rate, and far from the usual interpretation.

    Thank you, sir!

    • all parts are there and DLs work fine. Don’t DL with JD. Since FF has changed the look, this isn’t possible anymore. You must DL directly from FF

  3. Another superb rip, Rach. Must be a helluva turntable.

    Vasary is good, very, very good. I’ve known a couple of older folks (now gone) who knen him for many decades, and both have told me that he was really at his very best at about 13 years old.

    His recording of the Chopin Nocturnes (not all of them) is also quite good, if a bit fast. But I’m still an Arrau aficionado . . .

    • There are many (luckily) factors, that determin the good sound: the TT+cart of course, the outstanding phono amp, my hellish good sounding tube pre amp, the superb sound card RME Fireface UC and last but not least, the most important thing, the vinyl. Vinyl always killed for 32 years the CD. That’s all. A last thing…I have the good skills for making good rips.

  4. Huge thanks for pointing me to that version! Great!! Vasary is impressive, LSO well, it is LSO… not LPO. Can’t imagine what it would have been with Sanderling & LPO. Anyhow Vasary is definitely a top-notch pianist and your rip sounds awesome!

      • Inhuman? I see no rip of Mr. Bang-Bang here… Btw, his U-tube videos of Rach3 are a real joke… must be intolerable cruelty for you? (well not just you…). Thanks again for all the gems!

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